Why, who makes much of a miracle? As to me I know of nothing else but miracles, Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan, Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky, Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water, Or stand under trees in the woods,
From 'Miracles' by Walt Whitman
Funny thing. When my father went to New York, he asked me what I wanted him to bring me. I said poetry, of course. Whitman, to be specific. He brought me back 4 or 5 volumes of Whitman: the collected, the selected, the best of, everything. So you'd think I have every imaginable Whitman-poem in my library. That for me, Whitman is nothing special. But this one is new to me (and to be honest, I haven't even read all the Whitmans I have, so that shows you that basically more is less).
In this poem, Whitman wonders what the big deal is with miracles; he sees them everywhere. By making the special not-so-special, he also makes the not-so-special special. That's actually quite Zen-like of old Walt.
It's an art in itself, seeing the miracles in every day. It's hard to find wonder in the grind of office life. And when one is getting crushed in an overcrowded subway, surrounded by sweaty bodies, the only miracle seems to be how so many people can fit in one compartiment.
However for me this week is was easy, with finding beauty. This week I launched my chapbook Ghosts of Old Virginnyand while that may not have been a miracle, the evening was nothing short of wonder-ful. The trick with events like that is to try and stay in the moment and lean back and enjoy. I think I managed to do just that. There's some Zen in me yet.
But then, reality kicks in again.
After highs and lows, the day-to-day is always hard. After highs, daily life is too bland. After lows too cheery. I've experienced both a high and a low recently, so I am dealing with a reality of opposites. Life, it's both too out there and nothing special.
Reading this Whitman poem reminded me there's something miraculous in everything, something ordinary in the extra-ordinary, something special in the not-so-special and that to live is to look for that and live in it. There may be something wonderful in that stuffed subway and even if I don't see it right away, at least there's good coffee waiting for me at my exit, with cheery staff that know my order by heart.